Children At Play: Homeless Encampment Takes Over Fresno Park
FRESNO, Calif. (KMPH) —
From a distance, Pilibos Park in southeast Fresno looks like a nice place to hang with the family.
But Jim Nau says up close, it's a totally different story.
"There is a whole row of belongings on both sides of the building of the homeless, their attire, their boxes, their junk that they've had. The homeless are occupying the benches, so you can't go to the benches," Nau, who used to frequent the park, said.
Some parents say they don't even want to take their kids to play at the playground because of the homeless encampment just feet away.
"There's no way that a female would feel comfortable, especially with their children, going and playing on the park structures," Nau said.
Nau says it's become a matter of public safety and health.
"There would be a confrontation, there's also the fact that there's a lot of needles and drugs going on in the bathroom. Who knows if it's another Roeding Park situation," Nau said.
When we went out there to see it for ourselves, about ten people scattered at the sight of our camera, but "Albert" and "Phyllis" stuck around.
"We've been here about two weeks, but we've been homeless for a while," Phyllis said.
Albert says he does his best to keep the area clean.
"I make sure the tables are wiped down. I make sure to tell people not to urinate around the outside of the building," Albert said.
But for parents like Jim, it's not enough.
He says he was confronted by the homeless the last time he was out there and won't go back until they're gone.
"There's less and less things for the kids to do. We have our schools that are cutting back on after-school programs and extra curricular activities. And now they can't even go to a park," Nau said.
Jim has tried contacting Council Member Sal Quintero's office since the beginning of September about the issue.
He just received a reply on Monday from Quintero's assistant, stating that: "Fresno police have addressed this issue and have ran out the homeless on several occasions. Unfortunately, this seems to be a new crowd who have started loitering at Pilibos."
She also noted there was a community clean-up day at Pilibos Park on September 29th.
Meanwhile, Assistant Fresno City Manager Bruce Rudd sent the following statement to KMPH News: "The city is aware of the homeless who are occupying Pilibos Park, as well as other parks in our community. Ultimately, we want to help get people off the streets and keep our parks safe and welcoming places for our community, but that is a very tough challenge given the lack of resources to deal with homelessness in our community."
It's worth noting, the city does have a "homeless prevention and policy manager".